When you look at Week 7’s top 20 scorers, you see a few familiar names; Arian Foster, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson, just to name a few. With guys like that manning the top of the leaderboards each week, it seems as if predicting who each weeks’ top performers will be is easy, right?
Wrong. There were plenty of names of last week’s scoring charts that really had no business being there. Sure, we could have predicted that DeMarco Murray or Tim Tebow had a chance to be there. But the Kansas City defense, Plaxico Burress, Olindo Mare Josh Scobee, John Beck and Mason Crosby? Fat chance you predicted those guys would be among the game’s brightest stars in Week 7. But that’s the fun of this game, isn’t it? Predicting who the best guys will be, week in and week out? Exactly.
So same deal as usual here: these aren’t player you necessarily wanted to start this week, but due to injury, byes or general suckery, you have to. It’s your backup plan. Here’s a rundown of some of the top widely available fill-ins by position and which guys they’ll be better than this week.
And who knows; maybe a few of these guys will be among the top scorers this week.
Andy Dalton vs. Seattle
Yahoo: 29 percent owned, ESPN: 13 percent owned
Prior to last week, you could argue that Carson Palmer still ranked ahead of Dalton in the ginger-quarterback hierarchy. After the mess of a performance Palmer had in his Raider debut, that argument is now moot. Dalton is the unrivaled king of the red-headed quarterbacks now, and it will show through in a matchup with the middling Seahawks. With Cedric Benson out, think 250+ yards and a few scores.
Alex Smith vs. Cleveland
Yahoo: 27 percent owned, ESPN: 11 percent owned
You could argue here that you shouldn’t start Smith against a Browns defense that limited Charlie Whitehurst to 97 yards on 12 of 30 passing. But that would be a ridiculous argument, as it’s likely that Whitehurst is one of the NFL’s worst quarterbacks. The Browns defense is actually fairly strong against the pass, but Smith will probably have one of his patented 200-yard, two-touchdown days. You could definitely do worse.
Guys he’s better than this week: Matt Cassel, Kevin Kolb
Christian Ponder vs. Carolina
Yahoo: 16 percent owned, ESPN: 7 percent owned
For all the talk about Cam Newton being the single greatest quarterback who ever walked on this earth, people seem to forget that Carolina is still a pretty bad team. Sure, Minnesota is a festival of mediocrity too, but let’s give Ponder a few more chances before we write him off. C-Pond had a solid starting debut against the Packers with nearly 18 standard fantasy points, and he could see similar success against a mediocre Panthers defense.
Bernard Scott vs. Seattle
Yahoo: 32 percent owned, ESPN: 16 percent owned
Now that Cedric Benson is finally serving that suspension we’ve all been waiting for, it’s Bernard Scott’s time to shine. Scott may only “shine” as bright as that flickering streetlight outside your house, but he’s startable nonetheless. Seattle has been decent against the run this season, but Scott won’t have to fend anyone off for touches, so he should be in line for a decent fantasy day.
Guys he’s better than this week: Marshawn Lynch, Jonathan Stewart
Delone Carter vs. Tenessee
Yahoo: 29 percent owned, ESPN: 21 percent owned
Carter totaled 89 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries in last week’s game against the Saints. That sounds like a pretty nice day, until you check the final score and see that the Colts lost by more than 100 points. But its fantasy, so who (except you, sad, sad Colts fans) cares? The Titans’ defense is better than the Saints, but their offense is worse, so the Colts might stay within 30 points long enough to get Carter 15-20 carries.
Guys he’s better than this week: Maurice Morris, Roy Helu
Knowshon Moreno vs. Atlanta
Yahoo: 59 percent owned, ESPN: 79 percent owned
Sure, it may seem like Moreno is owned in a lot of leagues. But if you play in a competitive league where owners actually manage their teams, there’s a good chance he’s been dropped. The physical embodiment of the Josh McDaniels era in Denver, No-No has less than 150 total yards this season, showing how awful a No. 12 overall pick he’s been. But as much as I hate him, McGahee is out, so Knowshon could be a worthwhile play this week.
Guys he’s better than this week: Peyton Hillis/Monterio Hardesty, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Notable WRs on bye: Greg Jennings, Roddy White, Santonio Holmes/Plaxico Burress, Mike Williams, Darrius Heyward-Bey, those guys who play for Chicago
Antonio Brown vs. New England
Yahoo: 45 percent owned, ESPN: 10 percent owned
The Patriots’ offense may be really good, but their defense is stupid bad, so we could be looking at a shootout at the ketchup bottle this week. That’s where Brown comes in. Brown had nine targets and totaled 102 receiving yards last week, numbers which are very repeatable against a New England defense that ranks 29th in the league against opposing wideouts. I guess the only question is this: What can Brown do for you?
Guys he’s better than this week: Brandon Lloyd, Pierre Garcon
Torrey Smith vs. Arizona
Yahoo: 46 percent owned, ESPN: 26 percent owned
People have been giving Joe Flacco a lot of flak recently (get it?), but this week against a Cardinals pass defense that looks like it belongs more in the Sun Belt Conference than in the NFL, the Ravens pass game should get back on its proverbial feet. Smith is your classic boom or bust player, but with a bad opposing defense and a quarterback who likes to throw the ball downfield, look for this week to be a boom for Maryland’s favorite son.
Guys he’s better than this week: Percy Harvin, Deion Branch
Michael Crabtree vs. Cleveland
Yahoo: 39 percent owned, ESPN: 55 percent owned
Yes, Cleveland is actually tied for the No. 1 spot in pass defense through the season’s first seven weeks and yes, Crabtree, for all his talent, has been so mediocre that it has actually caused his fantasy owners physical pain. But despite his many, many shortcomings, it would behoove you to start the man this week. Other than Vernon Davis, Alex Smith literally has no one else to throw to, so Crabsies will get some looks.
Guys he’s better than this week: Greg Little, Victor Cruz
Notable TEs on bye: Jermichael Finley, Tony Gonzalez, Kellen Winslow, Dustin Keller
Jermaine Gresham vs. Seattle
Yahoo: 51 percent owned, ESPN: 31 percent owned
Three Bengals in one weekly waiver wire column? What is this, 2005? No it’s not, and luckily, Kimo von Oelhoffen won’t be here to ruin the Bengals’ fun. Gresham has been a frequent flier in the Backup Plan this season, and for good reason; Gresham ranks 11th among tight ends in standard scoring this season, and he’s still unowned almost everywhere. Seattle ranks 19th against TEs this year, so Gresham should have another solid game this week.
Guys he’s better than this week: Fred Davis, Brandon Pettigrew
Visanthe Shiancoe vs. Carolina
Yahoo: 27 percent owned, ESPN: 21 percent owned
Rookie quarterbacks love tight ends. That statement could easily be misinterpreted if it’s read the wrong way, but you catch the drift. Tight ends often act as a young quarterback’s safety blanket over the middle, and Shiancoe is no different with Ponder. He’s caught 9 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown in the past two games, much of that coming from the arm of Ponder. Their rapport should continue to grow this week against a poor Carolina defense.
Guys he’s better than this week: Dallas Clark, Greg Olsen
Notable DSTs on bye: New York Jets, Green Bay, Chicago, Atlanta
Cincinnati vs. Seattle
Yahoo: 53 percent owned, ESPN: 47 percent owned
The Seahawks literally scored just three points last week. Against the Browns. In what was possibly one of the saddest excuses for a football game in recent memory. So what did we learn from this debauchery? Well, we learned that the Seattle offense is a hot mess and that streaming a defense against them is a good, nay, necessary move. The Bengals have boasted one of the league’s top defenses all season, so this matchup is Brazilian model-gorgeous.
Defenses they’re better than this week: Pittsburgh, Detroit
Tennessee vs. Indianapolis
Yahoo: 28 percent owned, ESPN: 21 percent owned
We’ve known all season that the Colts are a terrible football team without Peyton Manning. But in their Sunday Night shellacking at the hands of the Saints, we learned something new about the Colts: Their spirits have been broken. There’s no coming back from a 59-point beat down on national television, so Indianapolis will likely start becoming even more offensively inept, if that’s even possible. Expect the Tennessee defense to continue to rip apart their souls this week.
Defenses they’re better than this week: New Orleans, San Diego
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